Just a week ago, many NBA observers expected a quiet trade deadline in 2017 — then the DeMarcus Cousins deal happened.
All it took was one panicked decision from the Sacramento Kings to turn February in the Association on its head, and for that we thank Vlade Divac and the rest of that organization.
With just two days left before the deadline, and with Boogie on his way to New Orleans, we decided to take a look at the 10 biggest pre-deadline trades of the past 25 years — and yes, Cousins makes the list. Enjoy.
Shaq comes to the desert (Feb. 6, 2008 — 15 days before deadline)
Phoenix Suns acquire: Shaquille O'Neal
Miami Heat acquire: Shawn Marion, Marcus Banks
Steve Kerr knew his job as GM was on the line in Phoenix, so he decided to make a drastic move that effectively ended the Suns' era of "Seven Seconds or Less."
Adding the Big Aristotle alongside Steve Nash and Amar'e Stoudemire didn't work out, of course. Give Kerr credit for having the confidence to try something to bring a championship to Phoenix, misguided though it was.
NBAE/Getty ImagesGarrett Ellwood
Golden State starts to build a champion (March 13, 2012 — two days before deadline)
Golden State Warriors acquire: Andrew Bogut, Stephen Jackson
Milwaukee Bucks acquire: Monta Ellis, Ekpe Udoh, Kwame Brown
Freeing the necessary cap space to sign Andre Iguodala in 2013 was a more important trade for the Warriors, but they probably wouldn't have won a championship without Bogut in the middle in 2014-15.
More important, sending Ellis to Milwaukee freed Stephen Curry to become the two-time MVP we all know and either love or hate these days.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY SportsGary A. Vasquez
The Rockets add reinforcements to a champion (Feb. 14, 1995 — nine days before deadline)
Coming off of a hard-fought championship win over the New York Knicks in 1994, the Rockets knew they needed more firepower to defend their title with Michael Jordan out of the league. Drexler was the perfect fit with Hakeem Olajuwon & Co., giving the Rockets a potent inside-out combination that led to a sweep of the Magic in the 1995 Finals.
NBAE/Getty ImagesBrian Drake
The Knicks mortgage their franchise for Melo (Feb. 22, 2011 — two days before deadline)
New York Knicks acquire: Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Anthony Carter, Shelden Williams, Renaldo Balkman, Corey Brewer, second-round pick
Minnesota Timberwolves acquire: Eddy Curry, Anthony Randolph, $3 million
And to think, rather than go through one of the most complicated trades in NBA history, the Knicks could have just waited for 'Melo to sign as a free agent the next summer.
Looking back, the Nuggets got a pretty solid haul for a superstar, which is so rarely the case in the modern NBA. Right, Sacramento?
NBAE/Getty ImagesSam Forencich
The Sixers add a finger wag (Feb. 22, 2001 — day of deadline)
Philadelphia 76ers acquire: Dikembe Mutombo, Roshown McLeod
Atlanta Hawks acquire: Theo Ratliff, Toni Kukoc, Pepe Sanchez, Nazr Mohammed
The majority of the trades on this list had a significant impact on the NBA title picture in a given year (or years), as that's what trade deadline deals are supposed to do. The acquisition of Mutombo put the Sixers over the top as a contender in the Eastern Conference, lifting Philadelphia to an NBA Finals date against the juggernaut Los Angeles Lakers.
The Sixers famously took one game off of a Lakers squad that otherwise went undefeated in the postseason. Without Mutombo there to limit Shaq, Los Angeles would have made history.
Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images
The Pacers set the stage for "Malice" (Feb. 19, 2002 — two days before deadline)
Indiana Pacers acquire: Ron Artest, Brad Miller, Ron Mercer, Kevin Ollie
At the time, this was the "Jalen Rose" deal. The talented former Michigan standout wasn't necessarily being shopped, but Pacers president Donnie Walsh made it clear he was listening to offers at the deadline.
In return for Rose, Indiana acquired a hard-nosed defensive specialist in Artest, among others. Two and a half years later, Artest helped ignite the "Malice at the Palace" in the stands in Detroit, forever changing the way the NBA handles security and interactions between players and fans.
Without this trade, everything would have been different on that night — and throughout the Association.
NBAE/Getty ImagesAllen Einstein
The Kings say bye-bye to Boogie (Feb. 19, 2017 — four days before deadline)
New Orleans Pelicans acquire: DeMarcus Cousins, Omri Casspi
Too soon to put this trade on a list of the biggest moves of the past 25 years? Perhaps. Then again, Cousins is the most talented player to be traded in his prime at the deadline in recent NBA history.
We don't know how this will work out in New Orleans, but there's really no questioning the titanic effect this trade will have on the league.
Sergio EstradaSergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports
Detroit feeds its need for Sheed (Feb. 19, 2004 — day of deadline)
Detroit Pistons acquire: Rasheed Wallace, Mike James
Atlanta Hawks acquire: Chris Mills, Zeljko Rebraca, Bob Sura, 2004 first-round pick
Boston Celtics acquire: Chucky Atkins, Lindsey Hunter, 2004 first-round pick
The whole point of a deadline deal is to try to win the title — and on that front, the Pistons were 100 percent successful in 2004. Sheed was the skeleton key who unlocked Detroit's potential as a defensive Goliath and buzzsaw of offensive execution. The talented but shattered Los Angeles Lakers never stood a chance in the Finals that year once Sheed was in Motown.
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY SportsRaj Mehta
Baron Davis turns into Kyrie Irving (Feb. 24, 2011 — day of deadline)
Los Angeles Clippers acquire: Jamario Moon, Mo Williams
This is what happens when you compound a medium-sized mistake with a massive one.
The Clippers wanted to get rid of Baron Davis' contract, so they packaged an unprotected first-round pick with Boom Dizzle to the Cavs for Mo Williams — whom Los Angeles viewed as an "All-Star-caliber" player because he'd just made an All-Star appearance with LeBron James.
Williams was 28 years old at the time and very clearly only made the exhibition because of the King, yet the Clips pulled the trigger on this deal because they thought he had more upside than a lottery pick.
Without this move, LeBron is probably not in Cleveland, and the 73-win Golden State Warriors probably have another title to go with their regular-season triumphs. Oops.
Getty ImagesJed Jacobsohn
The Lakers add Pau for another title run (Feb. 1, 2008 — 20 days before deadline)
Los Angeles Lakers acquire: Pau Gasol, second-round pick
Memphis Grizzlies acquire: Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie, two first-round picks, rights to Marc Gasol
Admittedly, this might stretch the definition of "deadline deal" ever so slightly. Given the overall impact of this trade, though, we're perfectly fine with that.
The Lakers went on to three Finals appearances and two championships with Gasol, as he played seven seasons in Los Angeles before leaving to join the Chicago Bulls in 2014.
Just imagine an NBA where the Lakers never acquire Pau, leaving Kobe frustrated and with "just" three rings in his pursuit of Jordan. Would the Black Mamba have stayed in Los Angeles? Would we view him the same way? Would we all believe LeBron is better than Kobe, instead of just those of us who aren't Lakers fans?
The world will never know, but those questions clearly make this trade the biggest deadline deal of the past 25 years.